After a victory at home over the Buffaloes, the Bruins tweaked the offense a bit by using defenders in special PAC packages. UCLA is now 7-2 (4-2 in the Pac-12) after the victory over the Wildcats.
1. 1st Impressions?
gbruin: Pretty good. It wasn't a great performance, but compared to every visit to Tucson since 2003, I'll take it. Certainly there is more work to do and we'll need to get better each coming week, but the team handled a tough challenge well enough.
bruinclassof10: Is there a more dynamic freshman in the country than our very own, Myles Jack? Hundley looked comfortable again for the 2nd consecutive game, and our defense looked like it was up to task, on both defense and offense.
AHMB: I'll take the win. Traveling to Tucson is a tough road trip, and beating a pretty good team on the road is always a good result.
DCBruins: Myles Jack. I thought earlier he might be better than Anthony Barr. He proved this game he was a better a running back.
Ajax: Nice Pac 12 road win against a team the Bruins have struggled with at their place. I'll take it.
Bellerophon: Good, but not great. Yes, it's a win in a place we have not won at in a long time, so there's a lot to say for that, but Arizona isn't that good of a team and I just felt like we were neutral for most of the game. I think with top tier coaching, this same group of UCLA players wins by 20+ points, easily. Could Mora develop into a top tier coach? Maybe, but he's definitely not there yet.
2. Do you think that Myles Jack and the other defenders should continue to play offense?
gbruin: Sure. It worked well and the players loved it. But they coaches will probably have to tweak things a bit because UW will be able to prepare for what it's seen by adding a couple new plays or by changing the formation some.
bruinclassof10: As a fan, I would love to see more formations with a few defenders on offense. Loved seeing Zumwalt get a catch, and Jack's momentum shifting runs too. As someone pointed out, our best linebacker was a running back and our leading rusher in the game is a linebacker?
AHMB: Yes, as long as it works. It won't be a huge surprise to any of the teams left on our schedule, but they'll have to prepare for it.
DCBruins: Our rushing game stinks. I like that we schemed creatively to find a way to deal with the problems. I am not sure Myles Jack and company every week is the answer but I think we need to continue to think outside the box on rushing until/unless Jordan James comes back healthy.
Ajax: Situationaly, yes. Maybe install a limited package for that group each week, especially for short yardage/ goal line situations. While he is probably our best RB (and would be on many teams), I think Jack is more valuable to the Bruins on Defense in the long run.
Bellerophon: I'm not sure if I'd go with that package as much as we did, but when the right situation calls for it, I think we should use it. Stanford has a similar package they run with great success, so I'm glad to see Mora has Mazzone mixing it up finally. That said, while we should use that package situationally, I would not be opposed to seeing Myles Jack get around 5 carries per game on the offense. He's a freak of nature and an insane athlete: he's a legit two-way player. I don't know if he can hit a curveball (but he's probably a better PG than Bryce Alford) but his pure athleticism and his size (6'1", 225 pounds), as well as how power running style, reminds me a lot of Bo Jackson (6'1", 230 pounds). Relying on Jack wouldn't be necessary if Mazzone would remember Malcolm Jones has looked pretty good in limited action as a power runner.
3. The Good
gbruin: The Bruins, including Hundley, came out hot, which was great to see. I liked the aggressive mentality shown by the deep ball early, the fake punt (though I still question the place and time), and the packages for Jack and the defensive players. Jordan Zumwalt and Eric Kendricks had good games on defense against a really good running back.
bruinclassof10: We got creative on offense, and the linebackers were able to contain Carey (Barr was double teamed all game).
AHMB: Myles Jack.
DCBruins: Of course Myles Jack but also I thought the linebackers played a good game on both sides of the ball.
Ajax. Myles Jack--Wow, what a revelation. Aside from the "defender package," it appears that Mazzone is making an effort to mix it up a bit. The play where Darius Bell motioned across the formation to take the direct snap was a clever play call. I love the aggressiveness of the fake punt call, but you better make sure you execute if you are going to run it from that part of the field. Also, the offensive line was solid in pass protection. Hundley's confidence seems to be improving after a couple of shaky performances. The Bruins also did a better job at limiting penalties.
Bellerophon: Myles Jack. Need I say more? Actually, besides Jack, I really liked Mora calling the fake punt: Jack was wide open and had Covington hit him, that's a 40-50 yard gain, if not a TD -- watch the replay, there is no one anywhere close to Myles, and all he has is green in front of him. The execution was poor, but the call was excellent.
4. The Bad
gbruin: It was frustrating to see the offense slow down after the fast start, and I think the play calling had a lot to do with that. We can't let up against the remaining teams like that. While Anthony Barr commanded tons of attention from their O Line, our D line needs to take better advantage of that.
bruinclassof10: I agree with gbruin here. It seems like our offense would stall and the defense-offense would need to bail them out in some situations.
AHMB: The running game needs work. Using Jack as a situational package is one thing, using him out of necessity is another. Perkins was getting only 3.5 ypc and Thigpen only 2.1 ypc. Those numbers aren't going to get it done going forward.
Ajax: Yes, the running game is a work in progress. It starts up front with the OL, but some more creative play calling is also in order. I'd like to see a counter and another draw play utilized in the game plan. On D, the Bruins need to do a better job of containing the QB. Denker was able to break contain on a few pass plays where the secondary locked up UA's WR's. SFPTR live in this category, but that goes without saying.
DCBruins: Agree with AHMB.
Bellerophon: I loved that Mora called the fake punt but it pissed me off to no end that he would then kick the ball away on 4th-and-very-short situations when the ball was in Arizona territory. And why did we stop going vertical? And we still need to work in more intermediate passes.
5. What needs to be addressed before the UW game?
gbruin: Keep working on playing 60 minutes on offense, defense, and coaching. Start fast and pull away. I'd like to see Brett continue to get quicker with his progressions. I'd like to understand what's up with Malcolm Jones. And I'd like to see the offensive tempo stay high on a more consistent basis.
bruinclassof10: We need to establish our running game with our running backs.
AHMB: I agree with bruinclassof10. We have to get our running game back on track.
DCBruins: Until/unless Jordan James comes back we need to be creative running the football. I don't think we can establish a running game in the traditional fashion. Our RBs are just not that good. We need to be pass first (no more first down runs up the middle except as a change of pace) and generally use the pass to set up the run.
Ajax: Mazzone needs to keep tweaking the offense until he can find the right combination for passable running game. If they can establish a ground game the passing game will almost certainly improve as well.
Bellerophon: Kind of hard to disagree with gbruin: we need to put together a full 60 minutes of high-level football in all three units. I cannot think of a game where all three units played top-level football for the entire game. They've all had their respective let-downs at some point, even in the big wins.
6. The extra point
gbruin: We keep seeing the Bruins playing to just above the level of the competition, which has been good enough against everyone except Stanford and Oregon. They're going to have to continue to elevate that level of play these next three weeks. And as long as they do that, it will be fine, even though it is awfully nerve wracking.
bruinclassof10: The path to the Rose Bowl starts now.
AHMB: The coaching staff took a couple pretty big gambles in the game and lost on both. The fake punt in the first half was open, but poorly executed and we ended up giving Arizona the ball at the 25 yard line. In the 4th quarter, Coach Mora decided to accept a penalty rather than give Arizona a 4th and short at their own 42 yard line, but our D was flagged for pass interference the next play and Arizona ended up scoring a touchdown. Neither gamble worked, but you have to take the good with the bad when you make those kind of decisions..
DCBruins: It is interesting when Mora gambles and uses "all the plays in the play book." I thought the first time we played Stanford last year he went vanilla knowing we were going to play them again. The second game he opened the playbook and did everything he could. This game I felt like he was going to try everything and anything to win unlike against Oregon and Stanford ( this season) when he seemed to be playing it safe. Not commenting either way, just find it interesting. I would guess he felt Arizona was the must win game.
Ajax: The Bruins control their own destiny. Win out, and they get another shot at Stanford for the Rose Bowl. UW, ASU and Southern Cal are all going to be tough games. These final 3 games will tell us a lot about this team, this coaching staff and the trajectory of the program going forward.
Bellerophon: If I'm not in Palo Alto to see the Bruins against the Trees in the rematch of last year's title game, someone screwed up. We get Washington and Arizona State at home: there is no excuse not to win either game at the Rose Bowl. If they were both on the road, losing one of those two would be fair, but neither team is good enough to beat us at home. Southern Cal is coming on strong, which makes Orgeron look real good as the permanent replacement, but they have a lot of holes and Mora and his staff should be able to scheme for that.
Feel free to share your own thoughts on this game and other aspects of this season. Remember to wear BLACK on Friday night.